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Pagenaud captures third straight IndyCar win in Indy GP

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INDIANAPOLIS – Through another clinical combination of pace, patience and pit strategy, Simon Pagenaud powered to his third straight win in the Verizon IndyCar Series in Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

It’s also his second win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, having also won the inaugural race here in 2014.

He led 57 of 82 laps and continued his incredible roll of finishes. The three wins follow two second place finishes to open the year, as he heads into the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with a massive points lead.

Behind him, Helio Castroneves held off the advances of James Hinchcliffe for second. Hinchcliffe tried to close in the last stint and actually got ahead of Pagenaud on a pit sequence, only to be surpassed by the flying Frenchman shortly after a Lap 45 restart.

A trio of Americans ended just behind the Canadian, with Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimball and Conor Daly in fourth, fifth and sixth.

Daly led the middle portion of the race but fell back on the final stint, although sixth matched a career-best result and was a popular one on home soil.

Scott Dixon was caught up in a first lap, first turn skirmish with teammate Tony Kanaan and also Sebastien Bourdais and had a relatively anonymous drive to seventh ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi.

Montoya and Rossi were among six drivers penalized during the race – there were four drive-throughs for pit exit violations while Rossi received a penalty to yield a position for exceeding the track limits. The drive was arguably his best of his rookie season and he also set the fastest race lap, a best time of 1:09.5535 in the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda.

Others where their results didn’t justify their race pace and weekend performance included rookies Spencer Pigot and Matthew Brabham in their second and first starts respectively, ending 11th and 16th.

An early spin dropped Will Power to a position he couldn’t recover from and he ended 19th. Josef Newgarden had a nightmarish day to end 21st after starting last – like Rahal, he’d been dropped to the rear of the field after his car failed post-qualifying technical inspection.

Results are below, with Pagenaud now extending his points lead to 76 points over Dixon heading into the rest of the month.

INDIANAPOLIS – Results Saturday of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 82, Running
2. (13) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 82, Running
3. (3) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 82, Running
4. (24) Graham Rahal, Honda, 82, Running
5. (2) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 82, Running
6. (22) Conor Daly, Honda, 82, Running
7. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 82, Running
8. (6) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 82, Running
9. (15) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 82, Running
10. (12) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 82, Running
11. (18) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 82, Running
12. (17) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 82, Running
13. (9) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 82, Running
14. (11) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 82, Running
15. (19) Marco Andretti, Honda, 82, Running
16. (14) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 82, Running
17. (23) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 82, Running
18. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 82, Running
19. (10) Will Power, Chevrolet, 82, Running
20. (4) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 82, Running
21. (25) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 82, Running
22. (16) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 81, Running
23. (21) Alex Tagliani, Honda, 81, Running
24. (8) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 20, Mechanical
25. (5) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 0, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 108.784 mph
Time of Race: 1:50:18.5823
Margin of victory: 4.4748 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 10 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Pagenaud 1 – 21
Kimball 22 – 23
Rahal 24 – 25
Pagenaud 26 – 40
Castroneves 41 – 45
Daly 46 – 59
Castroneves 60 – 61
Pagenaud 62 – 82

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 242, Dixon 166, Montoya 160, Castroneves 159, Rahal 133, Kanaan 111, Kimball 111, Hinchcliffe 110, Hunter-Reay 109, Power 105.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”